Chondromalacia patella

Alternative Names

Patellofemoral syndrome; Knee pain – chondromalacia

Definition of Chondromalacia patella

Chondromalacia patella is the softening and breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that lines the underside of the kneecap (patella).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Chondromalacia of the patella occurs in adolescents and young adults.

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical examination. The knee may be tender and mildly swollen, and the kneecap may not be perfectly lined up with the femur (thigh bone).

Treatment

Temporarily resting the knee and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin may help relieve pain. Physical therapy, especially quadriceps strengthening and hamstring stretching, may be helpful.

Expectations (prognosis)

Chondromalacia patella usually improves with therapy and use of NSAIDs. For the few people who need it, surgery is successful most of the time.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/13/2010

Chondromalacia of the patella

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.